Monday, December 13, 2021

Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People

Punk is not dead and neither is Bob Spit (a.k.a. Bob Cuspe). Brazilian cartoonist Angeli thought he had killed off his creation in the pages of his underground comix Chiclete com Banana, but a punker like Spit is hard to kill. When word reaches him of his creator’s attempt to do him in, Spit sets off to give him a piece of his mind in Cesar Cabral’s ultra-meta and super-rude stop-motion animated feature, Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People, which opens this Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Spit is your basic hardnosed, unreconstructed punker. (He is also a bit phlegmy, hence his name.) Ever since Angeli thought he killed off his best-known creations, Bob Spit and feminist icon Re Bordosa (who maybe isn’t completely dead either), he has been somewhat blocked creatively. Maybe because everyone keeps talking about his iconic characters, including his closest colleague, transgender cartoonist Laerte, who is quite a fan of Bordosa.

Supposedly, Spit was killed by a horde of mutant Elton Johns, who symbolize the pestilence of pop music. However, the perennially angry punk seems to handle them just fine in the cartoon wasteland he stalks through. Inadvertently, he saves the goonish Kowalski Brothers, who have been piecing together “prophecies” regarding him from the pages of
Chiclete com Banana. When they show Spit the death Angeli wrote for him, it makes him mad, so he intends to teach the “old cartoonist” a lesson. Meanwhile, the animated Angeli has weird dreams and visions of Bordosa and Laerte, who appears to him as a Roma fortune-teller.

Cabral takes viewers on a bizarre post-modern animated ride that features the real voices of Angeli and Laerte, appearing as themselves. It is sort of like an animated cross between
The Young Ones and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, but the feral Elton John mutants have no precedent. This is a crazy, self-referentially Borgesian film, but it stays true to the defiantly anarchic spirit of the original Bob Spit.

What unfolds is near-total bedlam, but the stop-motion animation is quite masterfully rendered. The movement and facial designs are reminiscent of Adam Elliot’s
Mary and Max, but thematically, the two films could not be more dissimilar. Bob Spit has no interest in personal growth or moral uplift, but he just might have some insights into the nature of art and the creative process.

When it opens in LA,
Bob Spit will be officially qualified for Oscar consideration as best animated feature. Just imagine how glorious a Bob Spit musical number could be. Frankly, given the enthusiastic participation of Laerte, we fully expect all Netflix employees to protest the Academy if it is not nominated. Otherwise, they would be total hypocrites.

Regardless, it is so refreshing to revisit the punk ethos at a time when we’re held captive by the tyranny of the professionally offendeds’ feelings. Bob Spit does not take that noise, so long live Bob Spit. In fact, this is one of the most original and distinctive animated films of the year. Very highly recommended,
Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People opens Wednesday (12/15) in LA, at the LaemmleNoHo.